The Student Voice: Protests in Hong Kong

By Hannah Litwin

Photo Credit: Julia Fujisaka
Photo Credit: Julia Fujisaka

Lately, the clash in Hong Kong between the young students and the older generation has been echoing our own city’s history of college students who stand up for many of the same values. What they are fighting for is democracy, specifically, for the citizens of Hong Kong to elect their own leaders rather than being forced to choose between candidates vetted by the Chinese government. These student demonstrations have come to be known to the rest of the world as the Umbrella Revolution, coined when a photo was released showing a man protecting himself from tear gas with an umbrella. In Hong Kong, it is referred to as “Occupy Central with Love and Peace.” Like the student activists at UC Berkeley who first led peaceful sit-ins during the 1960s, the fight for democracy in Hong Kong is led by the student federation. The citizens involved, as passionate as they are, have not been rioting. Instead, they have calmly taken to the streets of the Hong Kong financial district. While it is true that many other citizens were angered when they were late to work because of the crowds and police, the students have remained polite and clean, even designating certain members to collect the trash. The response of Hong Kong authorities, so far, has been to employ many of the same tactics that were used on Berkeley students not so long ago. Tactics such as pepper spray and tear gas, meant to subdue young people who were never a physical threat to begin with. The common thread is demonstrators themselves facing police brutality when their worst crime is hindering the flow of traffic. The students of Hong Kong are pausing their personal lives to fight for something that they feel affects their people as a whole. They do so to protect their people’s right to choose. They do so civilly and neatly. The goal is not to harm but to disrupt just enough to be heard, an idea also made popular in our own city. Whether or not the student protesters of Hong Kong realize their goal, the images of their struggle are being seen by students everywhere, serving as a reminder to the rest of us of to keep on using our voices.

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